Horses & Kids

A love for horses can start early! However, as all parents know, children’s whims can come and go. Therefore, it’s wise to determine the degree of interest before investing in riding gear and lessons.

You could begin by watching movies about horses with your youngster or visiting a petting zoo with ponies. Hands-on experiences help! Picture books or basic reading on the subject are other ideas.

If your child remains receptive, consider a trip to a lesson stable, where both of you can watch and discuss the activities. (Call ahead first to arrange this.) With special permission, you might practice feeding snacks like cut-up carrot pieces to friendly horses (keeping those palms flat and steering clear of the “kick zone”). You could even schedule a “pony ride” for your child (while helmeted, of course) aboard a steady older horse led at a walk.

Be supportive, and observe how your child reacts when exposed to horses. If your wee one finds a real, live horse frightening up close, try introducing him or her to a small pony. If the child still appears fearful or hesitant, respect that and revisit the idea later, because forcing the issue can lead to a negative experience. But if the reaction is an enthusiastic “Hey, this is fun! I want to know more,” then you have your green light.

Kids and horses can be a wonderful combination, and nurturing this relationship from an early age can be rewarding for both you and your child. For more information on the benefits for kids and learning to ride while young, read on.